Many different religious denominations have embraced the use of technology in their Houses of Worship in order to create richer worship experiences.
One of the benefits of adopting this trend is the advantage of being able to live stream video, and in turn, increase viewer engagement. Having the ability to reach previously unreachable members of a congregation, due to their inability to attend church services in person, is greatly also hugely beneficial for ministries attempting to create a stronger connection with their congregants.
Not only does streaming video help bring absent members closer to the church, but, thanks to the advancements of video and mobile devices, accessing these live streams is easier than ever.
All that remains for HOWs and their technical staff to worry about is getting the video recorded and streamed live without any hiccups.
As we are well aware, when it comes to technology, there are no guarantees. At best, users try and avoid anything that would interfere with the quality of experience for viewers.
It is important to know what potential pitfalls look like, and be prepared with a plan for how to deal with them if they should arise.
Let’s take a look at some of the potential bumps in the road.
Study the Subject and the Environment
Houses of Worship (HOW) usually have volunteers running the AV show for them. A select few, larger churches may have technical staff to take care of their requirements. Unfortunately, not having the experienced staff needed can be a costly mistake, especially in the case of live video streaming.
Live video streaming often requires technically savvy operators who are able to understand and analyze the in-the-moment technicalities and potential hiccups of live streaming.
At the very least, it is important for operators to spend some time before sermons to study the speaker, his or her movements, and the recording environment so they are able to adjust details like video source, bit rate, bandwidth, and resolution. The type of results produced will depend on a correct combination of all these factors.
Keep Back-Up Ready and Test Equipment
One of the most common reasons for a bad live video stream is a technical glitch in equipment and a lack of testing before the actual recording begins.
Of course, there is a way to solve this problem – keep testing your equipment as many times as possible and have your power, Internet, microphone, lighting, and video back-up sources ready.
A test stream should always be done to ensure that all systems are go. Also, equipment should be tested separately. Though a technical error can happen at any time, no matter how much prepping has been done, these tests will at least minimize the chance of these errors occurring.
Keep a Separate Internet Connection for Live Streaming
Having the right amount of bandwidth is essential if you are aiming for a good quality live stream.
A general Internet connection should be kept separate from the one which will be used for streaming video. The outgoing stream shouldn’t be interrupted by anyone web browsing or using it for any other application for which the Church uses the Internet.
A drop in performance can be a common problem when an Internet connection is shared.
Getting the Bandwidth Right
It is important to stream video at the right bandwidth so that it can be streamed to a number of different locations and across a wider viewer base. The number of viewing locations will determine whether an in-house server will suffice or if you will need a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
Upload and outgoing speed of data is another factor that plays into this decision. It is easy to confuse this with the incoming or the download speed. However, when you are planning to stream live video to multi-site churches or distribute sermons across several audiences, you need adequate outgoing speed.
Don’t get confused by the promotional pitches of the Internet connection providers who usually give details about their download or incoming speed. Reviews provided by those in the business, as well as word-of mouth reviews from others using the services will do a better job of helping you choose the right service provider.
A Bit about the BIT Rate
To avoid an unwatchable, unpleasant experience caused by buffering or stuttering, it is important that you keep the BIT rate lower than the bandwidth of the viewer.
Choosing a BIT rate that is too high makes the video incompatible to the viewer’s Internet connection, which will defeat the entire purpose of offering a live video stream, and your faith community will not be able to enjoy it.
If there are bumps in the road, and there almost always are, then there are bound to also be ways for us to avoid getting hit too hard by them.
By keeping in mind the above factors, and the ways in which you can tackle them, you are more likely to ensure that your original purpose for offering live video streaming will be met without any interference.
As with everything in life, it’s better to be safe, than sorry, and you can never be too prepared.
Learn about how Third Baptist Church modernized its sermons with live streaming and projection technologies that were installed in a historic building.